Tasmanian Election in Australia Looks Good for Gun Law Reforms

Tasmanian Election in Australia Looks Good for Gun Law Reforms
Tasmanian Election in Australia Looks Good for Gun Law Reforms

Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- Tasmanian win of the Liberal party in Australia may lead to reforms in Tasmania's gun laws.

The extreme gun laws in effect in Australia were railroaded through at break-neck speed in 1996, on the heels of mass murder at Port Arthur in Tasmania. After 20 years of having little effect, except to criminalize many ordinary acts of rural Australians, regulatory reform consistent with the democratic rule in a republic is taking place.

Taking the harsh edges off the law has been happening in several Australian states. Queensland has increased the term of class C and D licensees from 1 to 5 years. Class C allows for semi-automatic rimfire rifles of 10 shots or less, and semi-automatic and pump shotguns with a capacity of 5 rounds or less. Class D allows for centerfire or rimfire semi-automatic rifles with a capacity of more than 10 rounds, or semi-automatic or pump shotguns with a capacity of more than 5 rounds.

In New South Wales, the police have been granted the discretion to charge a fine for minor breaches of the storage laws, or to simply require immediate compliance. The old law mandated criminal charges, termination of firearms license, and confiscation of the firearms involved.

Donald Eykamp may be the poster boy for the extreme harshness of the law. After being charged with relatively minor storage violations, he lost his gun license, paid over $10,000 in fines, and had $150,000 dollars of collectible super grade pre-1964 model 70 Winchester rifles and antique Colt muzzleloading revolvers confiscated. Donald had no prior criminal convictions. His firearms were at his farm, where he was living alone.

To most Americans, the laws appear insanely strict, repressive, and irrational. Many Australians think the same and have been moving to reform the laws and make them more rational and reasonably administered.

Prior to 1996, Tasmania had the least repressive gun laws in Australia.

The Liberal party in Tasmania is closer to American conservative philosophy than to the far left. Before the 2018 election, the party was working on commonsense reforms in response to concerns about absurdities in the state gun laws. The promised reforms were released to the public about a month before the election, on 9 February, by sending them to firearms owners.

In the months before the Tasmanian election, the leftists' media in Australia was busy pushing for the ouster of the Australian Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce. Joyce was involved in a minor sex scandal.  The media succeeded in ousting Joyce from the Deputy P.M position but had not been demonizing the firearms reforms percolating in Tasmania.

The Liberals in Tasmania were poised to win another four years. The election would be held on 3 March. The Australian national media attempted to derail their election by proclaiming the gun reforms to be underhanded and dangerous, the day before the election. The ploy did not work, and the Liberals won a majority of the seats.

Rene Hidding, Minister for Police, Fire, and Emergency Management said the reforms were nearly identical to those proposed by the leftist Labor party. From the Liberal website:

The extraordinary hypocrisy of the Labor Party has been highlighted again today criticising our firearms policy despite Labor having a near-identical policy position.

Here is a summation of the reforms promised by the Liberals in Tasmania:

  • Establish the Tasmanian Firearms Owners Council made up of firearms owners and other stakeholders.
  • Improve the interaction between Firearms Services and firearms owners – and higher service levels. Includes a digital platform where every Tasmanian firearms owner can manage their license and registration requirements, and a promise to end delays and waiting times for licensing and permits.
  • Establishing a new Tasmanian competition shooting range to be available to all shooting clubs in Tasmania.
  • Broader firearms training and testing provisions ending the monopoly on training and testing that now exists. There are only 3 firearms testers for all of Tasmania, creating severe delays.
  • Extend periods of licenses doubling the term of A and B licenses to 10 years, and C licenses for two years.
  • Infringement notices for minor storage offenses this allows for an infringement notice, rather like a traffic ticket, instead of summons to court as a crime.
  • Finalize an MOU between the Government, Tasmania Police and the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association (TFGA). 

Many reasonable reforms here, such as clarifying arrangements for target pistol events between jurisdictions, allowing more than one club to have members that use semi-auto shotguns for clay target shooting, reforming the definition of “manufacture” to allow for repair and assembly of firearms, allow for the practical reloading of ammunition, developing a protocol for militaria and re-enactment groups, and removing the requirement for trigger locks on inoperative antique pistols. Allow agricultural contractors to obtain the highly regulated class C licenses, and allow them to obtain suppressors for their work.)

The Shooters, Fishers, and Farmers party ran candidates in Tasmanian for the first time during this election.  The Liberal party ran on a push that only a majority government could deliver on its promises. From smh.com:

Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party Tasmania chairman, and election candidate, Wayne Turale said Firearms Services had been under-resourced and mismanaged for some time, delivering conflicting regulatory information to gun owners.

With only three firearms trainers in the state, Mr Turale said there were lengthy delays in allowing people to obtain licences.

Mr Turale said farmers had been charged by police for carrying unlocked weapons in their vehicles while crossing public roads which ran through their property.

Notably, he was pleased to see that prohibition of guns with a ‘‘military appearance’’ would be reviewed, saying competition shooters using custom-fitted firearms had been affected.

‘‘Firearms should be assessed on the action, not how they look,’’ Mr Turale said.

He said police officers needed better firearm training, beyond service pistol use, and there needed to be standard operations procedures implemented for future firearm inspections.

The reforms expected in Tasmania move the regulatory scheme away from one designed to punish legitimate firearms owners and shooters, and to reduce their numbers, to one where the regulations are administered fairly and competently for legitimate activities.

It will be interesting to see if the Liberal party follows through with their promises. It is not easy to do in the face of intense opposition by the Australian national media.

©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

Link to Gun Watch

About Dean Weingarten:Dean Weingarten

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

  • 17 thoughts on “Tasmanian Election in Australia Looks Good for Gun Law Reforms

    1. In Canada the “gun control” bureaucracy limits public access behind long wait times and essentially duplicate paperwork to different departments within their system to slow down, discourage and eliminate registrations, transfers and licensing. If you can’t contact a bureaucrat in a timely manner, you may not be in compliance with the law. Since Canada’s national police force operate the firearms bureaucracy, I doubt they have these problems.

      1. Actually depending on what state you live in you have a problem with waiting times because of bureaucratic restrictions with the worst being Western Australia.

    2. I’m sure that you from what you saw over here that many Australians are fed up to the back teeth with the gun control laws and being told how great they are as I a long with so many people I know have absolutely had a gutful with the restrictions and the constant media glorification of the gun control laws that were shoved right down our throats by politicians who sold us out to the media elites for their ongoing political fame

    3. Heath, I don’t know where you get your information but from the tone of your very generalised comment it si obvious that you are from the anti gun lobby. You name two events and ‘a report’ and follow with figures that could be pulled out of a hat. The Average Australian is not puzzled, and guns are a real issue in Australia. Lets see the real suicide rates and see how many were gun related prior to 1996. A very suspect comment in all areas mate.

      1. Hi Peter I apologize for my lack of links in my OP. I will attempt to bring a more fact based response for you.

        Firstly I am not anti gun. I lived for 23 years in a regional area and spent much time with firearms hunting. I just feel that guns are a tool that need to be used by people who have been trained in how to use them and have a respect for them. Guns are not toys and are not for everyone to have.

        According this government site (https://www.loc.gov/law/help/firearms-control/australia.php )

        A small sample of the statistical analys

        1991 there were 629 firearm related deaths in Australia compared to 333 in 2001. This represents a 47 per cent decrease in firearms deaths between 1991 and 2001. The incidence of both firearms suicides and firearms homicides almost halved over the 11 year period. While the number of firearms homicides has continued to decline, with 2001 recording the lowest number of firearms homicides during this period (n=47), the number of firearms suicides declined consistently from 1991 to 1998, but has since fluctuated. The number of firearm related accidents also fluctuated over the same period, from 29 firearms accidents in 1991 to 18 in 2001, but ranging between 15 and 45 over this time.
        Nationally, firearm suicides dropped from a rate of 2.2 per 100,000 people in 1995 to 0.8 in 2006. Firearm homicides also dropped, from 0.37 per 100,000 people in 1995 to 0.15 in 2006. These figures show “drops of 65% and 59%, respectively, and among a population of 20 million individuals, represent a decline in the number of deaths by firearm suicide of about 300 and in the number of deaths by firearm homicide of about 40 per year

        1. From what I understand from police officers I have known for many years, while crimes with firearms were initially reduced, the crime rate actually rose. Street crimes, such as assaults climbed, as did home invasions, burglaries, auto thefts. Drug related crimes rose, and turf wars increased. There is a growing population of radical Muslims who entered the country illegally. Shop keepers have been intimidated with arsons committed by organized criminals into paying for protection. Even on the streets of major cities, tourists have been attacked and robbed by roving “gangs”. From what my associates have said, much of this can be laid on the restrictive gun controls which give criminals the idea that they can do what they want without fear of anyone fighting back. And firearms are still arriving

          England is facing similar conditions. Armed robberies are up, with perps using either real or replica handguns. More police are either armed or have access to firearms, though it takes higher authority to authorize their issuance. Every year, the crime rate is compounded by shrinking numbers of people applying for jobs in law enforcement. At the same time, police officers increasingly reject being armed.

          Today, many EU nations are changing direction. The common people are demanding to have back their gun rights. In former Soviet satellites the same is true, and the leaders of Poland and Ukraine both publically announced that the people need the ability to defend themselves.

          It would appear that the world is not as some would like it portrayed. Governmental spying on the people is ever increasing with cameras everywhere. It is said that in England, a housewife can not leave her home to shop without appearing on at least three camera systems. And what is happening here in the USA is shameful. All in the name of public safety, our rights are being eroded, and the safety and security we receive in return is only an illusion.

    4. Little effect? We haven’t had a mass shooting in 20 years? How is that little effect you numpty!

      1. We’ve had a few gun massacres Alexander, the difference is that the mainstream media changed the definition to hide that little inconvenient fact from you just to maintain their narrative that these ridiculous laws make you safe when real world evidence says otherwise. So instead of name calling start actually doing research instead of regurgitating what the fake news media spoon feeds you.

    5. Well written Dean, a breath of fresh air to read your comments, actually our previous Prime Minister John Howard, a Liberal made the decision after the Martin Bryant, Port Arthur Tasmanian massacre, to ban all Military automatic rifles and the corrupt & bias Australian media saw an opportunity to capitalize on this, during this very sad period, Howard was interviewed by media and during a frenzied media interview at the time, Howard was asked are you going to ban all Automatic firearms, to which he carelessly replied, yes all automatic Firearms, he did not stipulate his previous comments that he would ban all Military automatic rifles, the rest for Australian shooters is history.

    6. 20 years of little effect?

      Unfortunately the above comment is very wrong.

      Australia had many mass shootings prior to the one in port Arthur Tasmania including the hoddle st massacre and the one in queen street to name but 2. In the last 20 years there have been ZERO mass shootings. A report released last year said that in suicides alone around 1000 lives have been saved as less access to guns has clicked in.

      Australia has 350 shooting deaths per year the USA 91 per day. There is a population difference (Aust = 25 million USA = 320 million) Australia is very urbanised and very multicultural with a GDP and standard of living that is as high or higher than the USA. The Average Australian is puzzled by the way that the USA views guns, the constant calls for more guns when there are so many problems now is confusing them. To them it is like saying we have a flood, what we need is to pour some water on it, that should fix it.

      Guns are just not an issue in Australia, there is very little push for expanded access. The vast majority of Australians cannot see why anybody would want a gun and look at the USA with pity for the issues that the gun culture has caused there.

      1. Actually Heath, you are wrong, and like the Anti-gun Media, you do not speak for the majority of Australians. I agree there was other shootings prior to Port Arthur, your stupid comment about a report released last year on suicides and saving 1000 possible gun related lives, is without validity, you quote a questionable statatician obviously unknown, as you have failed to mention who this character is, is just pie in the sky BS. You are entitled to your opinion and you are obviously ant-gun and most likely a very strong Green supporter, but your opinion is still respected, and will be more so, if you get your facts right next time.

        1. on suicides…. consider and compare the suicide rates of Canada and the US by all means. NOW compare the rates by the use of guns. Since gun access in Canada is greatly constrained, they are used far less often than in the US. However, the rates by all means is so close as to be statistically identical. =So what? Now, compare Australia’s overall suicide rates to US and/or Canada. You will find, no doubt, a similar result.
          Bottom line: when guns are readiy availble they and up being chosen as the means to suicide more often. When tjhey are not, other means are employed. Thus GUNS per se are not the issue, SUICIDE is the issue.

          NOW, remove suicide deaths from the US states, and two thirds of the annual gun deaths are no longer in the toll. Your figure of 91 per day now drops to about 30 per day. Next, eliminate the deaths coming out of the socialist controlled SHoles like Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, where the black on black inner city gun deaths are so high because of government policies maintaining a state of war, the actual gun deaths per hundred thousand residents in the US would drop to somewhere near Australia’s.

          If you’re gonna make comparisons, make them statistically accurate. Otherwise you are taking a handful of numbers and flining them onto the floor to see where they “line up”. We have the inner city massacres, and the high profile mass shootings, BECAUSE of stupid government policies. READ about the corruption, incompetence, greed, pre-determined agenda, of the officials involved at every level in the recent Florida shooting. Sheriff Dept, local city police, school administrators, school district captains, indiviual police and sheriff officers….. refusing and/or failing to DO WHAT THE LAW REQUIRED, trading their responsibility to keep the kids and others safe for a huge federal grant of money as a reward for falsifying recor o student criminal activity that, had it been reportd as required by law, would have placed the shooter in the cataegory of “cannot possess firearms”, so he could not have purchased his gun. Those issues are GOERNMENT issues, not firearms issues. Laws, policies, requirements WERE in place to keep firearms OUT of this kid’s hands… but were ignored, disobeyed, defeated.. by GOVERNMENT actors. We do hope those responsible will be suitably punished for their corruption and criminal actions.

      2. Actually, the 1996 disarmament laws had no effect whatsoever on the number of mass killing victims.
        In the 20 years preceding the Port Arthur incident (1976-1996), Australia had 14 massacres with a death toll of 79.
        In the 21 years after P/A (1996-2017), there were another 12 killing sprees with 83 dead to be mourned.
        And yes, several of the incidents post-P/A were mass shootings.
        But I’m sure giving up semi-automatic center-fire rifles was well worth… something.
        And if restricted access to firearms had any beneficial effect on suicide rates, Japan and South Korea should have little to no problems whatsoever with suicide… except that they’re both near the top of the list.

        1. Where’s is the link for these 12 killing sprees??
          The author of this article is just redneck living in his own bubble (USA)

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